The Holy Mess - The Holy Mess (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Holy Mess

The Holy Mess (2011)

Red Scare

Let's get the complaining out of the way: The sole problem with the new Holy Mess release is that it's primarily old material, thereby eliminating it from consideration for best album of 2011. Otherwise, The Holy Mess is a solid collection of 11 super catchy punk tunes in the vein of Lifetime, Rehasher and Latterman. Combining the group's Benefit Sesh and Dismount EPs with a couple of new tunes, the record delivers fun times straight to your earholes.

"I Think Corduroy Is Making a Comeback", originally relegated to digital bonus track status on Benefit Sesh, opens the compilation with a burst of jubilant guitar ‘n' vox. It's throaty and catchy and thoroughly rocking, and it sets the record up for a string of fast-paced fist-pumpers. Holy Mess tunes tend to be about some mixture of drinking and failing, with the music drawing inspiration from sources ranging from Strung Out to Billy Joel. The Benefit Sesh material ("Corduroy", "Goodbye 3713 (Must've Been a Good One)", "A Soulful Punk Tune About a Working Class Dreamer") outshines Dismount with bigger hooks, but the compilation overall flows nicely.

Without any context, the album sounds like it was written and recorded all at once. There's an emphasis on tunes that are either ridiculously catchy (Benefit Sesh) or ludicrously fast (Dismount). New songs "World Renowned Bonafide Shit Show!" and "Cigarette Reflections" are a little lighter in aggression compared to the older material, but still sound mighty passionate.

The liner notes add a nice touch, as members Rob Malloy and Steveo Niemoczynski break down the history of each song. The stories are actually interesting and go beyond the "I was drinking and then I wrote this" kind of background info. Whether it involves honoring a beloved dog or making semi-obscure digs at other bands, Mally and Niemoczynski provide some good tales. Now they just need to write that full-length.